What is machinery?
According to Merriam Webster, the term “machinery” is used for machines that function as a unit. It also defines it as the working parts of a machine.
From an economic point of view, machinery is considered to be all of a company’s assets that aim to:
- Manufacture products.
- Carry out activities in the company’s operating process.
- Perform tasks simply in less time.
What kinds of machinery are there?
Regardless of the ultimate purpose of the machines, they can be classified into two broad categories from a mechanical point of view:
1. Simple machinery: devices that consist of a single component whose mechanism changes the direction and/or magnitude of a force without creating or destroying a mechanical process. This is the case with a lever or pulley.
2. Complex machinery: several single machines combined together. These types of machines can be purely mechanical, electrical, or both. Complex machinery can range from a can opener to a fan and other more sophisticated mechanisms like a wind turbine or even a set of turbines that are then attached to other machines in a production chain.
Depending on the energy source, the machines can also be classified as:
- Electrical machinery: it has an electric motor that transforms electrical energy into mechanical energy and vice versa in order to operate a machine. They are usually divided into generators (they transform mechanical energy into electrical energy), motors (they transform electrical energy into mechanical energy by rotating an axis), and transformers (they retain the type of energy but transform its characteristics).
- Thermal machinery: temperature variation in fluids is used to transform mechanical energy. Some examples of this are turbines and steam engines.
- Hydraulic machinery: their main source of energy is the pressure generated by different liquids (usually oil) to get a machine to operate mechanically. Hydraulic presses or excavators are examples of these systems.
Finally, the term machinery is usually associated with the industrial realm, though there are specific machines for each sector. For example:
- Agricultural or livestock machinery: essential for fieldwork. It is mainly composed of agricultural vehicles that make it possible to save time and physical effort, as well as maximizing production.
- Construction machinery: mostly vehicles designed for excavating and extracting layers of soil; installing the foundations of an engineering project; and transporting, loading, and unloading materials. This type of machinery is equipped with traction mechanisms to operate on uneven terrain. Construction machinery can be light, heavy, or semi-heavy.
What are the machinery industry’s current challenges?
Ecology and sustainability. Productivity is a key focus when operating a set of machines to achieve an industrial goal. However, considering its impact on the environment is as important as its operational capacity.
This is why optimizing the machines’ performance, responsibly using resources in manufacturing machinery, reducing energy consumption during operation, and recycling parts after a machine’s end of life are essential when working with machinery.
With a focus on modernizing production machinery, the machinery industry should focus on:
- Using lightweight materials that allow rapid use with less wear and tear on the machines, which also means higher production and longer service life.
- Developing technological and digital improvements and innovations for reducing carbon emissions that can lower the negative impact that machinery has on the environment.
- Improving the combustion of agricultural or construction machinery by reducing fuel consumption.
- Implementing the Internet of Things (IoT) for the use of industrial machinery, working with interconnected devices, systems, and vehicles for smart, energy-sustainable production management.